It looks like the CIA is resorting to drastic measures in the hunt for former NSA contractor and secret-document-leaker Edward Snowden.

Sources say the agency is pulling out all the stops to track down the whistleblower in Russia and bring him back to the United States for trial, and its latest tactic is really going to stir up major controversy: The CIA has rounded up notorious outlaws H.S. Calhoun and his Rattlesnake Posse to hog-tie Snowden and deliver him alive in a burlap sack.

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Yikes. The CIA is really rolling the dice on this one.

Hiring such a rough-hewn gang of bandits as the Rattlesnake Posse is a sure sign that the CIA will do whatever it takes to get Snowden back on U.S. soil and behind bars. The ragtag group is full of hardened killers, including knife master Stiletto Cole, explosives expert Dynamite Dusty, gunslinging priest Father Smoke, and H.S. Calhoun himself, a man deformed by a botched hanging who wields a rattlesnake-leather whip.

Putting money and weapons into the hands of the disreputable Rattlesnake gang may be the CIA’s most reckless decision yet. Critics of the tactic point to the 1996 incident in which the agency sent the drunken cutthroats to Kosovo only to see the gang squander time and resources plotting to steal the gold nugget from One-Eyed Ivan’s hollow socket.

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In addition to the $500 bounty the CIA has agreed to pay the gang for Snowden, the posse is said to have received rights to the gold claim on old marshall Starr’s homestead, and has been let off the hook for a recent train heist. Taxpayers are also footing the bill for the posse’s long list of supplies that includes a crate of dynamite, an entire barrel of whiskey, 100 pounds of hardtack, and a Sharps rifle loaded with a single silver bullet.

So far the gang has been trying to turn up Snowden by hollering his name into every mountain valley in Siberia and setting bear traps along every trail, but has come up empty-handed. The gang’s tracker, Hawk, has been given a single strand of Snowden’s hair, but it is believed Snowden is so clever he may be wearing his boots backwards to make following his trail through the Siberian snow all the more difficult.

In typical Rattlesnake Posse fashion, no brothel or saloon along the way is being left unturned.

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For an agency with the power and resources of the CIA, hiring a gang such as the Rattlesnake Posse was surely a last resort, but it could prove to be a massive blunder. With the posse members as lawless as ever, they’re just as likely to double-cross their employers and recruit Snowden into the gang as they are to bring him in.

The CIA was clearly willing to play with fire to get its man. Let’s just hope the collateral damage is minimal, because once you’ve hired the Rattlesnake Posse, there’s no turning back.